Beyond Our Solar System; US Spacecraft Heads To History - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Beyond Our Solar System; US Spacecraft Heads To History

To boldly go where no man, um, earth-made object has gone before.  That's the "Star Trek"-like history that the spacecraft Voyager 1 is about to make.

Voyager 1 was launched, by NASA, more than 35 years ago.  That happened around three months after the first "Star Wars" movie came out.

Believe it or not the instruments on Voyager 1 still work, and the ones on its brother/sister craft Voyager 2 are also still cranking.  Scientists say Voyager 1 has a nuclear power plant that should keep running for at least seven more years.  And maybe Detroit could learn a few things from the craft's engineering; it's still sending data back to earth from the edge of the solar system.

Voyager 1 is traveling at around 38,000 mph  It is now 11.5 billion miles away from home.  It passed the planets that orbit around our sun years ago.

NASA says it's found some interesting things as the spacecraft gets closer to leaving our solar system, including changes in what's called "solar wind" that nobody could have predicted.  And it's noted that the magnetic field pull on Voyager 1 has stayed there, which makes scientists think it is still slightly inside the sun's area of influence.  Scientists say they see evidence, however, that the trip to the "outer regions" is getting closer, because they've seen the level of cosmic rays from outside the solar system start to rise dramatically.

The project scientist for both Voyagers summed things up quite well, saying "I think it's clear we do not have a model which explains all of this."

Beyond, perhaps, to boldly go where no earth-created thing has gone before.  

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